zamii;N ik .saf;hah-e ta.sviir-e be-hoshaa;N se maanaa hai
yih majlis jab se hai achchhaa nahii;N kuchh rang .su;hbat kaa

1) the ground/earth is the semblance of a single/particular/unique/excellent page with a picture of unconscious ones
2) ever since this gathering has existed, there is no good color/mood/enjoyment of companionship/sociability



be-hosh : 'Unconscious, insensible, stupefied, intoxicated, delirious; senseless, stupid'. (Platts p.204)


maanaa : 'Like, resembling; assimilating (to); equal'. (Platts p.984)


rang : 'Colour, colouring matter, pigment, paint, dye; colour, tint, hue, complexion; beauty, bloom; expression, countenance, appearance, aspect; fashion, style; character, nature; mood, mode, manner, method; kind, sort; state, condition; ... —a place of public amusement or for dramatic exhibition, theatre, stage; dancing; singing; acting; sport, entertainment, amusement, merriment, pleasure, enjoyment'. (Platts p.601)


.su;hbat : 'Companionship, society, company; an assembly, meeting, association; a fair; discourse, conversation'. (Platts p.743)

S. R. Faruqi:

To declare the gathering [ma;hfil] of the world, that is extremely full of colorfulness and pomp and circumstance, to be only a majlis is very fine. The ground is often given the simile of a 'page'. Moving beyond this, he has called it a kind of page on which pictures of the unconscious ones have appeared. The image is extremely excellent, and a bit mysterious as well. Those who live in the ground are devoid of senses and awareness. They're not only unconscious, but rather are like the picture of unconscious people. But why? If that gathering were unconscious, then we could have said that they were unaware of the outcome, or were far from the Lord, or unaware of their true nature, and for this reason they're unconscious.

The word 'picture' suggests that this ground, and those who live in it, don't really exist. A picture can be mistaken for a reality. But it's also clear that it's not necessary that the thing of which it's a picture would really exist, because a picture can also be of a picture/vision. In the third volume of :tilism-e hoshrubaa [in the daastaan-e amiir ;hamzah] Prince Turaj, in the course of an expedition to conquer the 'Tilism of the Thousand Towers', found himself passing through a city in which

men of paper moved and walked around. Shopkeeper and customer were all of paper.... In the evening all the shopkeepers fell out of their shops and lay there, and the people of the city all died. They lay there as paper pictures, neither showing any movement in their bodies, nor speaking with their mouths.

At dawn the Prince saw that

all the figures [putle] are engaged in their work, the shopkeepers are seated there. The Prince... said, 'Brothers, what happened to you, that at night you lay there on your faces?' The figures said, 'Well, sir, don't say infidel things-- repent in the name of the Lord Samiri [saamirii saamirii karo]! The way we are in the day, we are just the same at night.'... The Prince said, 'Listen-- all night long you were paper pictures, you were entirely dead, and you tell me not to say infidel things!' The figures said, 'Why are you kicking up such a fuss? Go to hell! We weren't dead-- you yourself lay there dead!'

It's not at all necessary that this description of a city in the 'Tilism of the Thousand Towers' should be made to wrap themselves in any transcendent meaning. But it will be absolutely necessary to grant that the people of that city bear a strong likeness to the people of the world. By day absorbed in an imaginary business, by night dead, but with the claim that they are alive-- and even considering those who are alive to be dead. What better depiction will there be, of the page of the picture of the unconscious ones? And if the color/mood of such a gathering wouldn't be grief/disquietude, then what will it be?

It can't be said that Mir's verse influenced this theme in the :tilism-e hoshrubaa , or that Mir was acquainted with the dastan from which Muhammad Husain Jah (the author/translator of this volume) took this scene (if he didn't invent it). But this scene from the dastan certainly seems to be a living commentary on Mir's verse.

It's possible that Mir might have borrowed this idea from [the Persian of] Maulana-e Rum. In the Masnavi (daftar 1, part 2) he says [in Persian] that those people who seek something other than God have the likeness of pictures:

'But those darveshes who acquired information about something else,
They became foolish and stupid and devoid of wellbeing.
They are not people with life, but rather a picture of a darvesh--
Don't give a bone to a picture of a dog.'

At this point in the Masnavi there are other verses of this kind as well.



The earth-- literally 'ground', which of course is a technical term in the realm of poetics-- can readily be likened to a page, because it's flat and spread-out. The page it's compared to here is ik -- with all the possible nuances, ranging from dismissive (a mere, single page) to admiring (a unique, peerless page), of that protean little number. It's an illustrated page-- and the picture on it shows people who are 'unconscious'. In its literal sense, this adjective works very well, since 'unconscious' people are motionless and still, like the figures in a picture. (As such, they might be helpless, and thus morally blameless.) Or the adjective could be taken in its extended sense-- the people depicted on the page could be 'intoxicated' or 'delirious' or 'stupid', as can be seen from the definition above. (In which case they might be culpable and subject to reproach.)

In any case, if we think of the earth as a (depiction of a) social gathering, it obviously can't be a very lively or enjoyable one. The second line makes exactly this complaint, and traces it back to the beginning of the earthly gathering. In this gathering there never has been, from the very start, any 'color, mood, enjoyment' [rang] of 'companionship, conversation' [.su;hbat]. It must be like the worst party in the world, only you can't leave and go to another party-- in fact, you can't leave at all, except presumably through the fire-escape door of death.

Which invites us to wonder about the status of the speaker. Is he too at the party? His use of 'this' makes us think so. And yet since he makes such a complaint, he seems to be aware; he's apparently he's not one of the 'unconscious ones'. Moreover, his complaint about the party extends back, apparently, to the origin of the earth-- which also serves to mark him as having (or at least claiming) special knowledge. Is he dead, and speaking retrospectively? Is he a specially endowed mystical knower, revealing the insights of the Sufi path?

Once the speculation begins, one more possibility presents itself. If you think about parties, you know there's sometimes one guest who gets really drunk and starts complaining: 'This party's dead-- nothing's happening! You're all just sitting there like bumps on a log! C'mon, look alive! Let's go and...' followed by some crazy proposal. Some of the guests just roll their eyes, but sometimes others are intrigued. Who knows what's going to happen next?